The Enlightenment
1650-1789
Big Questions
1. What was the Enlightenment and how
did it reflect new scientific ideas?
2. How did Enlightenment writers and
thinkers set the stage for revolutionary
movements?
Enlightenment Ideas
• Reason is admired by philosophers.
• Used reason from science to improve
all aspects of human life
(government, religion, education, and
economics).
• Pro-religious toleration.
• Society could be improved by using
reason and the Scientific Method
Enlightened Philosophers
Thomas Hobbes
• Wrote the Leviathan.
• Called for an all-powerful
leader.
• People are inherently bad.
• Role of gov’t- to preserve
peace and stability at all
costs.
John Locke
• Wrote Two Treatises on
Gov’t.
• Man is improvable through
reason.
• All men are born equal with
certain unalienable
rights…life, liberty,
PROPERTY (Natural Rights)
• Role of gov’t- to secure the
rights for its citizens (revolts
are ok).
Montesquieu
• Wrote The Spirit of the
Laws.
• Gov’t should operate with a
system of checks and
balances.
• Separation of Powers-3
branches of gov’t.
Rousseau
• Wrote “The Social
Contract”.
• Viewed government as a
Social Contract among
free individuals to create a
society guided by the
“general will”. (rebellion is
ok, if necessary)
• Man in the state of nature
is good
Voltaire
• Pro-religious toleration.
• Enlightened DespotismRational monarchs
protect people’s rights
(freedom of speech,
religion, etc.)
Mary Wollstonecraft
• Argued for women’s
education and political
participation
• Believed women, like men,
need education to become
virtuous and useful
• Women’s equality
Enlightenment Impact
Encouraged people to:
1. Judge for themselves what was right or
wrong in society.
2. Rely on human reason to solve social
problems.
Hobbes vs. Locke
Hobbes:
- People are selfish, self-serving, and brutal.
- Without control, society would be chaotic
Locke:
- People are reasonable and able to make their
own decisions.
- People should be able to govern themselves.
Big Questions
1. What was the Enlightenment and how
did it reflect new scientific ideas?
2. How did Enlightenment writers and
thinkers set the stage for revolutionary
movements?